Gmail’s filters make email rules easy. Here’s how to start using them
Are your emails overwhelming you? Today’s email clients like Gmail are trying hard to help. Google’s filtering tech is good, siphoning off less important emails into social or promotional tabs. You can also instantly flag an email as spam to help your Gmail account recognize when something is a problem.
However, if those capabilities don’t keep up with your issues or cause additional problems, you may need a more in-depth solution. That’s where email rules come in. Email rules are commands you set for how email platforms treat certain messages. Gmail allows you to set these up, and we show you how to do it.
How to create rules (also called Gmail Filters) in Gmail
In Gmail, rules are known as filters and are easy to implement (especially compared to options like Outlook). To filter emails, you only need your Gmail login, which is the same as your Google Account. We suggest doing this on a computer like a Chromebook, where you have access to a keyboard, which makes these steps easier.
- Open Gmail in the browser of your choice.
- Go to your Gmail inbox.
- Select the Settings gear icon in the upper-right corner and choose See All Settings.
- Go to the menu at the top of this section, and navigate to the Filters and Blocked Addresses tab.
- You’ll see your existing filters and Gmail rules. You can edit them or add more. You can also export or delete them for future management.
- Select Create a new filter. If you have an existing filter in a client like Outlook, select Import Filters to import a filter file you exported from another platform.
- The filter menu opens a new form to fill out. First are the from and to lines, where you can specify an address you want to treat differently. This is handy if you want to automatically sort emails into different folders for work based on the clients you talk to or to block emails from a specific address.
- Specify words in the Subject line in a similar way. Or you can go more in-depth and add specific words that can appear anywhere in a document (or that don’t show up). If you want to search for words from a certain email you received, use the Search function below to look through the emails collected in Gmail and spot what you want to filter.
- You can treat emails above a certain size differently in filter criteria. These are typically emails that come with lots of graphics or attachments. Section them off to save on cloud storage space for Gmail.
- Select the Create Filter button when you’re finished with the template.
- You’ll see filter options for choosing what your filter will do with an identified email. You can immediately archive it, mark it as read/unread without first reading it, or delete it. You can also star it or flag an email as important for more attention or put it in a specific category. Choose the options that match your needs, then select Create Filter again.
- Your filter is created. You can edit it if it doesn’t work how you want when you use Gmail. You can also export these files to another email app or another email rule system to save time, although they aren’t compatible with every email system. When you create a filter like this, it applies to all existing emails and incoming emails, so it can automate a lot of organization.
Fast-filter with a specific email
You also have the option to create an immediate filter based on a specific message. This can save time during a busy workday, so learning how to do it is a great idea.
- Identify an email that you’d like to filter in a specific way. In the main inbox menu of Gmail, select the checkbox to the left of the email.
- Select the three-dot More menu at the top of Gmail, next to the Labels option. Select Filter messages like these.
- This opens the filter form. The email address you checked is automatically entered. This saves time no matter what kind of filters you create using the steps above.
Go forth and filter your emails!
Now, you can quickly create email rules and apply filters whenever you want. These filters can be exported to other email accounts on platforms like Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook, and more. Remember to be exact in the addresses and phrases you filter so that you don’t cast too wide a net, and the rest will be a breeze.
If you want to take your email organization to the next level, create labels to organize your Gmail messages into sections based on their importance. This pairs well with great filtering habits.